Print Vision – a commercial printer with a strategy

The logic of less

The Print Vision pressroom team with Falit Pandya

Falit Pandya of Print Vision in Ahmedabad believes that less is more. “Long runs do not fascinate me as I have to invest in more paper and tie up my cash flow for more time. I would rather print 15 to 20 jobs in a shift on my new RMGT 920 where my investment in paper is less than my labor and costs and my returns in terms of cash flows are faster. Our team’s target for the new 6-color plus coater UV press is to turn out a count of 600 jobs a month.”

Pandya is not just talking – he has a system and a plan. He doesn’t turn down all long runs but has a way of counting them in his system – the first 3,000 impressions make a job and every 5,000 impressions thereafter are counted as a job. In other words, every 5,000 impressions of a medium or long run have to run at full speed of the machine. For instance, a run of 50,000 sheets counts for 16 jobs but in order to be profitable it has to be printed in three-and-a-half hours, including makeready for it to be counted as a productive project on the new press.

The F1 undercut strategy

There is a systematic approach and a plan to optimize the use of a very high-tech 920 mm format press although Pandya is the first to admit that just two months into the use of the new UV press these are still days of learning of acquiring knowledge about coatings and the technical and marketing possibilities of having 3 interdeck UV cassettes and 3 UV lamps end of press after the coater. “We can leverage UV decoration techniques and the 920 mm size to undercut printers relying on the 102 and 105 mm format presses in terms of operational efficiencies.”

We have heard about the virtues of this size and believed they would apply more to book printing than commercial print but here is testimony of optimizing costs and profits from a soft-spoken printer. Apart from the format size of the press, the ability to optimize costs comes from the easy to operate automation of the RMGT 920. Key areas of the press are made visible on the wide screen monitor on the console using three CCTV cameras installed on Print Vision’s press (up to six cameras can be installed). The last 30 seconds of the press running are recorded for playback in case the operator wants to find out what went wrong in the feeder or the paper movement and other key aspects that are being televised.

The RMGT 920 6-color plus coater UV press with closed loop color control was installed just two month ago
The RMGT 920 6-color plus coater UV press with closed loop color control was installed just two month ago

Further enabling the undercut is the color quality makeready and monitoring automation. The color quality is first of all established by preset curves for various inksets and substrates. For instance, when UV inks are used, a special set of curves are easily fed in from a printed manual. Then the CIP3 data of the particular job reaches the console and given the normal density settings the job is started. After running a few sheets, the spectro on the console scans the control strip on the tail of the sheet and indicates the ink zones that are above or below the desired density levels. By updating the RMGT PDS-E closed loop control system by pressing a single ‘Feedback’ button, the press itself makes the corrections, which are accurately visible and ready for the next scan after 50 sheets. The operator does not need to touch any of the ink zone keys on the console.

Regeneration by the 3rd generation

It is difficult not to burden the next generation of a printing business with the legacy of old technology and hypercompetition. It helps greatly if GenNext inherits the entrepreneurial spirit and is able to draw inspiration from their education. Pandya who did his bachelors in printing technology and management at FSU in Michigan, gained good experience before coming back to the family business in 2007. However, he insisted that the business must acquire a brand new multicolor press, which it did – a Mitsubishi Diamond 3000 4-color which is still the workhorse press of the business.

Now after ten years hands-on in the business, Pandya’s ten-year plan for Print Vision is to grow the company to where it is considered a large player that offers high value services in four verticals. The first is lenticular printing and he is one of the first Indian printers to use Human Eyes 3D software and to master lenticular printing.

The challenge here, he says, is to stay away from the high volume low-margin effects and to optimize and market the design and production of high quality 3D effects. Pandya is aware that print innovations require an ecosystem where print buyers and brand owners need to be shown the possibilities. “You must get into room with the marketing people, to ask, where do you need us? What can I do for you?”

Another vertical is the company’s design studio which already produces the prepress for high value-add print products using a variety of high grammage coatings and which will be the key to integrating new technologies such AI and augmented reality printing. The third vertical is to expand commercial printing, which is the company’s current strength. And the fourth vertical in the plan is packaging – a segment that the company wants to learn and grow in gradually.

It is clear that the new RMGT 920 6-color plus coater with both interdeck and end-of-press UV curing systems installed at Print Vision’s new plant in Ahmedabad fits well for the implementation of this strategy. “We want to be large only in terms of verticals and you need UV capability to print plastics and lenticular and luxury packaging,” says Pandya. “The new press gives us the opportunity to be in these areas and fits into the scheme of things. In fact, we are used to the quality of a new press and this is what we should have done three years back,” he adds.

2023 promises an interesting ride for print in India

Indian Printer and Publisher founded in 1979 is the oldest B2B trade publication in the multi-platform and multi-channel IPPGroup. While the print and packaging industries have been resilient in the past 33 months since the pandemic lockdown of 25 March 2020, the commercial printing and newspaper industries have yet to recover their pre-Covid trajectory.

The fragmented commercial printing industry faces substantial challenges as does the newspaper industry. While digital short-run printing and the signage industry seem to be recovering a bit faster, ultimately their growth will also be moderated by the progress of the overall economy. On the other hand book printing exports are doing well but they too face several supply-chain and logistics challenges.

The price of publication papers including newsprint has been high in the past year while availability is diminished by several mills shutting down their publication paper and newsprint machines in the past four years. Indian paper mills are also exporting many types of paper and have raised prices for Indian printers. To some extent, this has helped in the recovery of the digital printing industry with its on-demand short-run and low-wastage paradigm.

Ultimately digital print and other digital channels will help print grow in a country where we are still far behind in our paper and print consumption and where digital is a leapfrog technology that will only increase the demand for print in the foreseeable future. For instance, there is no alternative to a rise in textbook consumption but this segment will only reach normality in the next financial year beginning on 1 April 2023.

Thus while the new normal is a moving target and many commercial printers look to diversification, we believe that our target audiences may shift and change. Like them, we will also have to adapt with agility to keep up with their business and technical information needs.

Our 2023 media kit is ready, and it is the right time to take stock and reconnect with your potential markets and customers. Print is the glue for the growth of liberal education, new industry, and an emerging economy. We seek your participation in what promises to be an interesting ride.

– Naresh Khanna

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